Jour­Ney oF A sol­dier From PuN­JAB to cANAdA

The Sunday Guardian - - Nation -

Ev­ery Novem­ber’s first Sun­day, Cana­di­ans of Pun­jabi ori­gin, es­pe­cially Sikhs, fondly re­mem­ber the jour­ney of an In­dian sol­dier from Pun­jab to On­tario dur­ing World War I. For them, it is a spe­cial day as it has been ob­served for the past decade as the “Sikh Re­mem­brance Day” at the grave of Pvt Buckam Singh in On­tario.

Singh, who was born in Mahilpur, District Hoshiarpur, in 1893, died of war-in­duced ill­ness in Kitch­ener, On­tario, in 1919. His grave is re­garded as the only one of a Sikh sol­dier in Canada from both World Wars. He was part of the Cana­dian in­fantry. He was res­cued from obliv­ion about a decade ago when his vic­tory medal was found by Canada-based his­to­rian San­deep Singh Brar. Buckam’s grave was also dis­cov­ered by Brar at the Mount Hope Ceme­tery. Buckam was mar­ried at the age of nine. He had just turned a teenager when he landed in Canada in 1907. The harsh laws for im­mi­grants nei­ther al­lowed him to vote nor bring his bride to his adopted coun­try. The young man first worked as a miner and then as a farm­hand, and then en­rolled him­self in the Cana­dian Over­seas Ex­pe­di­tionary Force. In 1915, he trav­elled to Eng­land to par­tic­i­pate in World War I as part of the Cana­dian forces. Buckam was among the 10-odd Sikhs who fought for Canada in the “white man’s war”. Two of his com­rades, Pvt Gouger (Goo­jar) Singh and Pvt Lash­man Singh, were killed in ac­tion in Bel­gium and France, re­spec­tively. Buckam’s wife Pri­tam Kaur is said to have stayed on at her in-laws’ place and never re­mar­ried.

Mean­while, a 10-foot bronze statue in hon­our of In­dian sol­diers, who fought dur­ing World War I, was un­veiled at Smeth­wick in Eng­land last Sun­day. Un­veil­ing came a week be­fore Armistice Day to­day (11 Novem­ber). Guru Nanak Gur­d­wara, Smeth­wick, had com­mis­sioned the “Li­ons of the Great War” mon­u­ment, which de­picts a Sikh sol­dier, to hon­our the sac­ri­fices made by mil­lions of South Asian per­son­nel of all faiths.

Pvt Buckam Singh’s grave at Mount Hope Ceme­tery, On­tario. Photo: Face­book

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